The eastern slope of the Peruvian Andes is one of the most dramatic and diverse places on the planet, dropping from over 6000m (20,000ft) to just 200m above sea level. This dramatic drop in elevation produces a wide range of constantly changing climactic and vegetative zones – it is often possible to hike from the base of a glacier down to the jungle in just a day or two. Combined with the countless Inca sites and ubiquitous Inca roads, this makes the Sacred Valley one of the best trekking and mountain biking destinations in the world.
Machu Picchu is well known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the Inca Trail trek that leads there is nearly as famous. What is less known, however, is the vast choice of other epic adventure trips that exist in the region – treks through soaring Andean glaciers and Incan ruins, bike rides through stunning alpine and jungle scenery. Nearly every route in this book uses an Inca road or visits an Inca ruin – and most do both. The majority of the Inca roads can also be biked as well as hiked, so there is plenty of scope for both activities.
There are several bases to choose from for a Sacred Valley visit:
Ollantaytambo is perhaps the best base, as from here you can trek or mountain bike to Machu Picchu, Quillabamba, Choquequirao and nearly every other major site in the Sacred Valley. The town itself retains its original layout, Inca architecture and culture, and small village charm.
Cusco is the largest Inca city, with attractions including museums and restaurants as well as Inca sites. It is the starting point of only a few treks, but those include the iconic routes to Machu Picchu and Choquequirao.
Ausangate is the highest peak in the Cusco area, at a staggering 6270m. The region is home to some excellent hot springs, as well as various outstanding treks, and is usually accessed from the village of Tinqui.
The Andes are a formidable trekking and biking destination however. The altitude is often 3-4000m, so you will need time to acclimatise, even for the more moderate routes. The terrain is steep and rocky, which is particularly important to know for bikers when hiring a bike. Author Will Janecek has taken care to explain what to look out for when choosing your bike rental, to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride.
The routes in this guide describe the very best day and multi-day, walks and MTB routes, many previously unpublished, right across the Valley.
40 routes illustrated with custom mapping
includes many alternative routes to Machu Picchu, off the main tourist trail, which don't require a licensed guide or Incan trail permit
full background information on visiting the area, including how to hire bikes, guides and mules
mountainbiking, hiking, trekking
best months to visit are May to September, when the weather is virtually guaranteed to be dry; the other months fall in the rainy season but there will also be plenty of sunshine.
Agua Calientes, Cusco, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo, Huancancalle, Ausangate
the trekking and mountainbiking in the Sacred Valley is often strenuous and difficult; all routes are graded for difficulty and terrain indicated and also whether it is better to go with a trekking agency or hire a local guide; a few glacier climbs are outlined which require the correct expertise and equipment but most routes require no special equipment or skills and can be accomplished by anyone of average fitness.
the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu but also many other routes to many other Incan sites such as Choquechirau, Espiritu Pampa; spectacular Mt. Ausangate.